Industry Analyst & Strategist

Kill All the Ad Spam

More and more people are getting fed up with the privacy invading, superfluousness of web advertising. Ad blockers are seeing greater and greater utilization, 2021 estimated utilization of ad blockers from statista, Ad blocking user penetration rate in the United States from 2014 to 2021: “In 2019, roughly 25.8 percent of internet users were blocking advertising on their connected devices. This figure is expected to keep growing (albeit slowly) which loosely translated means that a quarter of paid advertising messages will never reach their audiences.” And that’s only ad blockers, what about privacy legislation and other regulatory actions? Accessibility requirements will force the worst of ads off the web as well.

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MasterWP Weekly (just sign up, it’s one of my go to newsletters), Issue 205 – Clean Advertising, has a great article with which I fully agree: “There are literally no times where I’ve seen an advert and thought “that ad improves my user experience”. I understand adverts from a business perspective, they earn companies money, and more adverts means more money so that means companies plaster them everywhere.” They reference a post from November 2020 in adactio, Clean Advertising: “[Y]et when it comes to online advertising, we seem to have meekly accepted that you can’t have effective advertising without invasive tracking. But nothing could be further from the truth. Invasive tracking is to online advertising as fossil fuels are to energy production—an outmoded inefficient means of getting substandard results.”

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Readers First

Why have I chosen this model? There are a number of reasons, the first is experience. I personally hate having to deal with popups, interstitials, or just outright gratuitousness of online ads. I use an ad blocker not to necessarily halt the cookie/invasion of privacy madness (though that’s a great bonus), no, I just want to read the content. Good sources of news recognize that visual hell holes are not keeping readers or engaging with them well. My great inspiration is Daring Fireball by John Gruber. It’s my go to Apple news site, and I felt I could do something similar in WordPress, Hosting, SaaS, and open source – and that readers would appreciate the lack of browser spam.

Reduce Advertising Effort

Reason number two is tied to effort. While it may seem counterintuitive, since you can just drop some JavaScript from an ad network and go, I’ve found that as the audience and reach have expanded, requests for sponsorship are all in-bound. That’s means I’m not having to spend a lot of time selling the product. Which also means I don’t have to worry about the type of ad and sponsor since it is very much in control, rather than worrying about ads that wouldn’t relate to my audience or are flat out inappropriate. So less effort, yay.

Business Planning Possible

The last reason is simple business and economics. With fixed pricing I don’t need to worry about whatever fluctuations occur in readers clicking on stuff. There is a simple value proposition offered to sponsors, X will happen for Y dollars. All of that is budget-able, plan-able, and unsurprising – just how most businesses like to operate.

I think the best way for writers, bloggers, news sites, etc., to achieve a level of success and independence will be to own and manage the entire advertising stack “locally.” Maybe more advanced ad networks which allow you to bid for advertiser dollars and then those ads get “copied” to your local infrastructure. No invasive tracking. No need to worry about ad blockers.

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